Nigeria

The Washington Post asked me in 1996 to re-open its bureau in West Africa — an exciting assignment!  One big problem was that the biggest country by far in the region, Nigeria, was under military rule.  The government of Gen. Sani Abacha was so hostile to press coverage that there was no question of opening the bureau in Nigeria.  (We established it in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, which had the best communications and transportation systems. In 1998, when I applied to Abacha’s government to open an office of the Post in Lagos, his State Security Service promptly arrested and deported me.)  Getting visas to cover Nigeria under military rule was a constant struggle, but with the secret help of dissident officials, we occasionally succeeded.  Our limited access left me feeling unable to do the breadth of reporting that I wished to.  And as much as we achieved was due largely to the help of our brave colleagues in the Nigerian press.

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